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Obit: Landgrave Moritz of Hesse (1926-2013)

Landgrave Moritz of Hesse at the wedding of Princess Nathalie zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg in 2011.

Landgrave Moritz of Hesse at the wedding of Princess Nathalie zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg in 2011.

Yesterday it was announced that Landgrave Moritz of Hesse passed away in the afternoon at a hospital in Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany, after suffering from lung problems for some time.

Named Moritz Friedrich Karl Emanuel Humbert, he was born at the royal residence Racconigi in Piedmont, Italy on 6 August 1926. He was the oldest child and first son out of three sons and one daughter of Landgrave Philip of Hesse and Princess Mafalda of Savoy, making him a grandson of King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy, and a great-grandson of Emperor Frederick III of Germany and his wife Victoria, Princess Royal.

Moritz spent his childhood first in Rome, Italy, and then in Cassel and Kronberg im Tanus, Germany. His mother died in the concentration camp of Buchenwald in 1944, to which she had been brought after being arrested upon returning from a visit to her sister Queen Giovanna of Bulgaria who had just lost her husband Tsar Boris, while his father survived after an imprisonment. Moritz received military training but was as a prince not allowed to take part actively in the war, and afterwards he finished high school studies in Darmstadt and then went on to study agriculture in Kiel. Subsequent to that that Moritz managed the estate of Gut Panker in Schleswig-Holstein.

Church arrivals, 18 June afternoon

Landgrave Moritz with Princess Tatjana and granddaughter Madeleine at Princess Nathalie’s wedding in 2011.

In 1968 the two main branches of the House of Hesse, the Hesse-Cassel and Hesse and by Rhine (Hesse-Darmstadt), were united under the headship of Moritz’s father when Grand Duke Ludwig died without heirs. The Grand Duke had during his lifetime, in 1960, adopted Moritz as his son and heir, and upon his father’s death in 1980 Moritz assumed the headship of the full House of Hesse and took the title Landgrave.

In 1964 the then Prince Moritz married Princess Tatjana zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg, daughter of Fürst Gustav Albecht and his wife Fürstin Margareta (née Fouché d’Otrante of Elghammar in Sweden) and thus sister of the current Prince Richard (married to Princess Benedikte of Denmark). They had four children: Mafalda (b. 1965), Heinrich Donatus (b. 1966), Elena (b. 1967) and Philipp (1970). Moritz and Tatiana divorced in 1974 but remained best friends, raised their children together and accompanied each other to events.

Landgrave Moritz lived at Schloss Wolfsgarten in Langen south of Frankfurt-am-Main and spent time at family homes in Italy. He devoted himself to his passions for garden culture, art and dogs (pugs). As head of the Hessian House Foundation, now under the headship of son Heinrich Donatus, Landgrave Moritz remained active and devoted in managing and developing the properties and collections inherited and united from the Hesse branches. The foundation manages a large and prominent art collection, some of which can be seen at the Schloss Fasanerie near Fulda.

– We descendants of Victoria see each other at weddings, funerals and parties, Langrave Moritz once said. Now it’s sadly time for the Landgrave’s own funeral service, to be held at the Johanniskirche (Johannis Church) in Kronberg am Tanus on 3 June at noon.

Landgrave Moritz is survived by his former wife Princess Tatiana, four children, ten grandchildren and his sister Countess Elisabeth von Oppersdorff.